Back after another absence... this time because we have just been away for a week, camping at a really lovely site in Weymouth, where a great time was had by all! I'm feeling quite refreshed (which was much needed) although the washing machine hasn't rested since we got back on Saturday.
I was wondering what to blog about - and if indeed I feel the need to keep going. I don't feel so much of a "home ed novice" any more. Not that I'm an expert in any sense of the word, but I do feel I have a bit more confidence on what we're doing now & a bit less of a need to write down all my thought processes.
Still, my attention has been grabbed by a few things this week, that I felt the need to comment on. Some good, some not so good, and some just amusing. While on holiday I got chatting with a lovely lady, bonding over the fact that she also had three boys. Hers were closer in age (all preschool), and she asked how the age range was for us (6.5 years between Eldest and Youngest). I said that the biggest challenge was home educating, finding things that they would all enjoy, but somehow it works (sneaky me - slipping it into the conversation: I like to spread awareness of home education as a viable way to raise children where possible). Anyway, we had a lovely chat about it - she seemed really interested, and shared a lot of concerns about school as provoked by her sister's current experience teaching in primary school.
So that in itself was lovely - that I got to share with her all the positive things about home education: my children are happier, healthier, somehow managing to learn and grow at an impressive rate, despite our unhurried approach. We are all less stressed, appreciating the chance to stop and 'smell the roses' - or just appreciate whatever detail grabs us at the time. Looking back I do ask myself how I managed to keep up the pace of life that we were living in before. It didn't do any of us any good, with hindsight. The lovely thing about talking to someone new to home education is that you realise afresh just how good Home Ed is. And that's important, because I have to confess that before we went on holiday I was feeling a bit jaded. Not by home education in itself, but tired of one of the few negative aspects of being part of the Home Ed community online.
You see, despite the fact that I am more secure in who we are and what works best for us, there does appear to be this need in some online groups to pigeonhole people. And if you know me, you'll know that I detest labelling people for the sake of it. I can't abide being shoved in a box by people who don't know us, so they feel they can judge whether they approve or dislike our approach. It's my own fault I suppose - I feed it by trying to describe what we do in an attempt to help people - that's kind of what this blog is about, let alone chatting on groups. But anyway we're too structured to be "Autonomous", so I am told, and apparently we're too relaxed to be "Structured". If it weren't for this incessant need by others to define, I couldn't care less. I don't want to be in either gang, as both can be pretty intolerant at times. However. It's not as big a deal as you might think reading this now - it just got a bit wearing at the time. And that is another reason why I have been questioning the need to blog: do I want to keep trying (and failing) to explain ourselves to others when actually I don't think there is a need?
But then I came across this link, the Ten Most Annoying Homeschool Questions Ever Asked. It made me chuckle (just don't take it too seriously, OK?) - and the bit I found the most amusing was in the comments at the end, where someone said that they were asked how their children would learn to stand in line if they didn't go to school! At first I found it such a bizarre thing to focus on, but on reading further it spawned a whole new conversation on the validity of the question - people saying this had been a real issue for them, others saying it was never a problem - and all sorts of different perspectives in between. It was so refreshing, and reminded me again of the joy of Home Education: the variety of individual experiences. There is no one right way to do it, because there is no one type of child. There is absolutely no point getting caught up in a "Autonomous v Structure" battle, because some children and/ or parents need structure while others work better without. Actually as I have said before, I believe it is possible to be autonomous and structured, if structure is what the child chooses - and many do - but that's another can of worms. Some people like the security of a label, and far be it from me to remove that from them. Wanting to belong/ attach yourself to a particular philosophy is fine of course, and I admire those people who have such clear and strong convictions that they can clearly define who they are and what they want. It's just not me. Home Ed wasn't something we had a firm conviction about from day one of parenthood. I was eventually convinced that it was right for us to do, and I knew there had to be a better way than what the boys and I had experienced in school - but the rest is a glorious kind of winging it - soaring like birds on the thermals of self-motivated interest, and at other times coming down to earth to rest and fulfil the more prosaic needs. I am simply committed to doing whatever I believe to be best for the boys at any given time. I don't think you can stick a label on that. It is all just home education, and regardless of style, every parent who does it because they have their children's best interest at heart is doing just great in my books.